10 July 2020, The Tablet

News Briefing: Britain and Ireland

News Briefing: Britain and Ireland

Westminster Cathedral last Sunday after restarting of Public Mass and Confession

Right to Life welcomed as a “major victory” the withdrawal of proposed amendments to the Domestic Abuse Bill. Bishop John Sherrington, the lead Catholic bishop for life issues, had warned that the amendments, which would have made it easier for women, particularly in domestic abuse situations, to access abortion, would have led to “abortion on demand”. The amendments to the Bill would have allowed women in abusive situations access to medical abortions at home. 

Professor Tina Beattie has announced she is to step down from her role at the University of Roehampton at the end of July. Professor Beattie, who has been at the university since 2002, said she would continue to focus on writing and academic research, and would continue as Director of Catherine of Siena College. 

Caritas Bakhita House, which provides accommodation for and supports women escaping trafficking and slavery, celebrated its fifth birthday last week. In that time the House has welcomed 123 guests and 11 babies, from 39 different countries. 

The Archbishop of Canterbury has honoured the Catholic Bishop of Derry and the retired Church of Ireland Bishop of Derry in this year’s Lambeth Awards for their work for peace and social cohesion in Northern Ireland. In a message of congratulation, Archbishop Eamon Martin described Bishop Donal McKeown and Bishop Kenneth Good as “two very worthy recipients of the Lambeth Award 2020” which recognised their contribution to church unity and their lived testimony to reconciliation in the wider community. 

The Irish bishops’ Council for Life has expressed dismay over the number of abortions which took place in Ireland in 2019, the first year that abortion was legal following the repeal of the Eighth Amendment.  A Department of Health report detailed 6,666 “Terminations of Pregnancy” during 2019, the first full year of legal abortion since the new law came into effect in January 2019. The official statistics reveal that 24 abortions were carried out on medical grounds. Another 100 were carried out on the grounds of a “condition that was likely to lead to the death of the foetus”. 

Archbishop Philip Tartaglia of Glasgow has spoken movingly of the recent death of his sister. On a livestreamed Mass from St Andrew’s Cathedral, Archbishop Tartaglia described the comfort he had drawn from Dina’s intimate Funeral Mass, which was attended by close family but with many parishioners waiting outside to pay their respects, and from the words in this week’s Gospel where Jesus says “Come to me, all you who labour and are overburdened, and I will give you rest.” It was an emotional week for the Archbishop, who also celebrated the 45th anniversary of his ordination as a priest. Archbishop Tartaglia also looked forward to July 23, when public Mass is permitted to resume in Scotland. 

Sisters of Mercy in Sunderland say they are “totally taken aback” at the international reaction to their weekly singalong for the NHS outside their convent – and are now actively investigating new forms of outreach to their local community, building on the links developed in recent months. They witnessed a growing number joining them each week, and their singing was picked up by global outlets including CNN in the US. 

Tributes have been paid to the former long-serving parish priest of St Joseph’s in Pickering Father Bill East, who died on July 1 after a long illness. Father Bill, who was 72, spent 11 years at St Luke’s Parish Church in Pallion, Sunderland, from 1983 to 1994 before being received into the Catholic Church along with his wife, Betty. He was ordained at Our Lady's in Acomb, York, and served in the parish before spending 18 years in Pickering. An accomplished Latin scholar, Father Bill was asked by the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL) to work on the new translation of the Missal. ICEL executive director Monsignor Andrew Wadsworth said: “It is hard to adequately express our gratitude for the highly significant contribution Bill has made to our English liturgical texts.”

The National Justice and Peace Network will hold a mini-Conference via zoom on 18 July, titled “Post Pandemic Church: paralysed or energised? recovered or re-imagined?”. It follows the postponement until July 2021 of this year's NJPN Annual Justice and Peace Conference at Swanwick. The mini conference will hold two sessions on “Forgotten people” and “Our Response” with speakers from the Jesuit Refugee Service, CAFOD, Westminster J&P, and St Antony’s Centre for Church and Industry in Manchester. The opening and closing liturgies for the second session will be led by composer Marty Haugen, who has composed a special chant for the occasion, inspired by Laudato Si’ and called, “Our Common Home”. More than 150 people are already booked in, but more are welcome. Event on Eventbrite, Or contact 020 7901 4864 or email [email protected].

A “real” thank you to the NHS involves proper funding and treating staff with dignity, according to the Archbishop of Southwark. Speaking at last week’s special Mass in St George’s Cathedral for the sick and their families, as well as NHS front-line workers and staff in social care, Archbishop John Wilson urged a lasting expression of gratitude and thanks to NHS and care staff who have battled Covis-19 over recent months. “Our thanks ring hollow if we fail to value our NHS, emergency, and social care staff in ways that are tangible and enduring” he said. “Making sure they are properly funded and resourced, and treated with dignity and respect, these are the real ways we can say ‘thank you,’” he added. He also called for recognition of the contributions of people from other countries, “who help ensure our hospitals, clinics, surgeries and care facilities are fit for purpose.” Archbishop Wilson also felt, “we each carry a personal and communal responsibility for staying alert, for controlling the virus, and for saving lives, especially those of the most vulnerable.”


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